this is where the world ends
Summary: 3 months and 20 years – give or take. It ends here.
Disclaimer: No copyrightinFringement intended.
A/N: Seeing this is the last season of Fringe, it seems fitting that I write something for one of my most favorite fandoms again. I am planning a series of post-episode fics for each episode because I am selfish like that. Let's see where it takes me.
Episode 1 – Transcilient Thought Unifier Model-11
She is sitting at the table when Peter enters the living room. Olivia is wrapping both her hands around a cup of what goes as coffee in this world – a gesture so intimately familiar to him he feels a pang of hurt in his chest. It has been months since he saw her like this. Years, his brain corrects. But it feels like months. Maybe it was only days since he last saw her. Her smile is still the same.
"Have you seen Walter?"
Immediately, he wants to smack himself for not asking how she is. He heard her turning and tossing again that night, her restlessness adding to his own. He cannot remember when he fell asleep last night but he doesn't feel like he slept a lot. Judging after the rings underneath her eyes, she hasn't, either.
She points to the window with one hand. Through the grey-and-white curtains, Peter can see a familiar figure in an abandoned car without a door. Walter is only wearing the same T-shirt he wore when they got him out of the Observer's HQ, a pair of boxers and an old bathrobe. Blood stains the shirt, ugly and red. But he seems calmer somehow, his head bobbing in an unheard rhythm.
"I hope he doesn't get arrested for indecent behavior," Peter jokes lamely and pours himself a cup of coffee as well. He remains standing, though.
Olivia looks up at him with her grey-and-blue eyes. Her golden hair falls over her shoulders loosely. Abruptly, Peter is thrown into a memory.
She is sitting at the table in his and Walter's house, a cup of tea in both of her hands, and she is smiling at him from behind a curtain of hair.
"I don't care. Just order something."
"You hungry or very hungry?"
She smirks and looks down and he follows her gaze. She is in her seventh month and Peter still can't believe the miracle of it: she is having a baby. They are having a baby, really, and the thought seems so incredible he has to swallow past the lump in his throat. At the same time, fear jolts down his spine, a cold shiver that makes him set down his cup and kneel down in front of her.
Olivia looks down at him, her brows creased in a frown.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing will ever happen to her," he tells her. "I won't allow anything to hurt this baby, Livia."
Her hand caresses his hair, her other wrapping around his.
When he looks at her, he sees the certainty in her eyes. It touches him – seeing how much she trusts him, how much she loves him. After all they have been through it still floors him that a woman like her could feel for him so deeply. That he ever could feel for someone else that much.
He'd say I love you but the words are stuck in his throat. She seems to read them in his eyes, anyway, because she smiles the most beautiful smile he's ever seen.
"And now, could you please order dinner? I'm starving."
In all the nights he has lived through since it happened – since the Observers took over and Etta disappeared – he has asked himself the same question. Could he have done anything? Could anything he had done bring her back? Had he reacted a second earlier, had he searched for her more stubbornly, had he waited longer. Would it have brought his daughter back? And whom has he failed more – Etta or Olivia?
Both, he guesses.
Olivia was strong, always had been. Of course, he knew it wasn't entirely the truth. Olivia was as strong as she was able to, stronger when she had people to depend on, weaker when she was hurt. Sometimes stronger when she was hurt and weaker when she loved someone. Peter had seen it all. He had fallen in love with a woman who was perfectly capable of standing on her own. He had resented her – she had seemed to strong after Etta's disappearance, so collected. So calm. He resented her for her strength to go on, to see the bigger picture. The world needed saving. Olivia had always been there for the world, even if her own life fell apart. Peter didn't care about the world in general as long as his own world was in one. Without Etta, nothing mattered anymore, not even what they had. So Olivia had left with Walter and Astrid, and Peter had stayed to continue his search for Etta.
And now they were here, three lost months and approximately 20 years later. He had watched Etta disappear and had lost Olivia and had ambered himself and there they were again, 2036, and he had aged three months since he had lost his daughter.
It felt like eternity.
"What are you thinking?"
Olivia's voice broke his train of thoughts. He looked back at her – her eyes, her hair, her face – and felt the unbearable urge to touch her. Kiss her. Feel her hair under his hands, the softness of her skin, the warmth of her lips. He stayed rooted to the spot.
"So much has changed," he offered her instead. The smile he received in return was both sweet and painful.
"Have we changed, too?"
He considered the thought. Had they? And had they changed because they had missed 20 years, or had they already begun changing before all of this had happened?
"I can't say."
Honesty was the best thing he could offer now. After all that had happened, he figured, he owed it to her.
"What do you think?"
"I think…" Her glance wandered off into the distance and remained there, something he had seen so often in earlier times that it made his heart ache again. She stared out of the window for quite some time. It had become lighter outside, but since the thick clouds covered the sky Peter was unable to tell whether the sun had risen entirely or not. This world seemed to be immersed into a never-ending half-light. "I think people change."
Is that good or bad, he wanted to ask her but kept silent. Olivia threw him a half-hearted smile and got up from the table.
"I'll go get Walter. Etta and Astrid will be up soon, we should start making some plans."
Setting her cup down in the sink, she came to stand so close to Peter that he could smell the faint scent of soap that clung to her. It was unfamiliar, like everything in this world. His and yet not his. Olivia and yet not Olivia. She was close – and yet he knew she was keeping a distance to him. He wasn't sure why she did it, only knew she had every right to. They hadn't parted on good terms. She had told him she understood, but that didn't mean she had forgotten. Why did their relationship seem to be built up on repetitions? Did they even still have a relationship? It hadn't mattered two days ago, when he had gotten her out of the Amber. Now… Now was different.
Olivia was watching him. Peter lowered his head, staring into his cup.
When she passed him on her way out of the kitchen – so close, so close – he had to lock his arms to his side in order to stop himself from touching her.